BHUBANESWAR: Odisha government has expressed its displeasure over reduced allocation in the Union Budget for 2020-21 financial year for development of railways in the State. Terming it as disappointing, Minister for Commerce and Transport Padmanabha Behera said, "We were expecting more than Rs 6,000 crore this fiscal as the allocation for the State in the last fiscal was Rs 5,993 crore. The allocation usually increases every year, but for the first time it is much less than previous year," he said.
The budgetary sanction of Rs 4,373 crore for railways in the State this fiscal is around 27 per cent (Rs 1,620 crore) less than that of 2019-20.
The Ministry of Railways, Behera said, has not taken the demands of the State into consideration while finalising the outlay. Though Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had demanded four new lines, only one has been sanctioned, he added. "Even as the 241-km Sambalpur- Gopalpur new line via Phulbani has been announced, the final approval is awaited. The other three proposals have been turned down. There has been no word on our demand for unification of railways in Odisha," he pointed out.
This apart, poor allocation for railway lines in districts having less or no railway network reflects the intention of the Centre, he said and claimed that Rs 33 crore for Jeypore-Malkangiri will further delay the completion of the project, which needs to be fast-tracked as it would usher in a new era of development in the Left wing extremist affected region.
During the inter-state council meeting on anti-Maoist operations at New Delhi in August last year, the Chief Minister had demanded railway connectivity for Maoist-hit Nabarangpur and Malkangiri districts for which the State Government was willing to provide free land and pay half the costs.
“The CM will discuss with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal about the negligence shown to Odisha this time. We will fight for our demands as the State is paying huge revenue to the Centre as far as the railways is concerned,” he added.
Railway sources said that while Rs 170 crore has been sanctioned for the newly created South Coast Railway (SCoR), only Rs 3 crore has been allocated in the budget as initial grant.